I hope it’s not too late to wish you a happy new year this being my first letter of the year. How is your new year going already?
This year has started slow for me and it was exactly the calm, cosy holiday of my dreams. We made the most of needing to stay close to home for some family health appointments, had no travel plans, simplified social engagements, and enjoyed the seemingly long, slow, grey days.
I’m not sure how long this feeling will last but thought I’d take some notes and share them with you in case you are wanting to tap into my zen over here.
Because I believe that adopting a Montessori approach works best when we are slow and intentional.
When we slow down we see more, we feel more and, even though we do less, I believe it’s possible to feel more alive.
We can be more present for our children – because you know who also naturally likes to go slow – the youngest children.
some things I want to remember from our slow holidays
A lovely mother Marissa who comes to my classes has a beautiful hashtag #thingsIwanttoremember. Inspired by this idea, here are some things I want to remember from these slow holidays.
None of this requires more than a bit of going slow and appreciating the simplicity. Maybe this simple list will inspire you to have a slow holiday sometime soon. With young children this is also totally possible – maybe with fewer cups of hot tea, but following their lead and rhythm.
- preparing finger sandwiches on the kitchen table whilst chatting to guests popping by on 24 December (totally not prepared in time, and it didn’t matter)
- whilst I am the first to jump on a train to explore further a-field, no travel also means no packing, no holiday washing, no worrying about travel connections etc.
- curling up with a book, blanket and endless cups of tea
- teenagers are fun to hang out with, meeting their university friends is nice too
- dyeing Emma’s hair black (looks amazing)
- freshly made coffee made on the stove every morning is just as nice as going to a cafe
- no alarm clocks
- with a small oven, slow cooking was the order of day for Christmas dinner; served an hour later than planned, but was delicious, not stressful and much-appreciated
- asking the guests to bring dessert on Christmas day is genius and it turns out gingerbread Tardis is quite tasty if you want a gingerbread house alternative
- did I already mention cosying up with blankets?!
- having time to lean into all the emotions, including sobbing one afternoon for 30 minutes straight and on Skype with my parents the following day
- cinnamon tea with some apple juice tastes just like gluhwein
- sourcing and installing typewriter tape is messy but satisfying
- bracing walks on new years day are the best way to start the year…maybe without the rain storm in the middle, but the hot chocolate at the end made up for it
- eating brunch at Little Collins’ new location is totally worth leaving the cosy house for
- these marscapone and berry blintzes are an amazing breakfast on new years day, but allow 2 hours to cook
- I like making stuff – baking, dying jeans, attempting embroidery
- whilst I was super strict on screen time when my children were young, a film or some Netflix is now a way to connect with my teenagers
- checking out of Instagram for 2.5 weeks was a great social media reset, and instead of an Insta-break, I made a cup of tea, called a friend or found something to do in real life
- painting your son’s student house can be meditative and clearly a good work out as my arm muscles ached for a couple of days
- Tory Hyndman at Delight Yoga is my favourite yoga teacher; and new year yoga is the best kind of yoga
a little wabi sabi
Which brings me to something else I’ve been enjoying over the break – the idea of wabi sabi. It’s a Japanese term meaning “perfectly imperfect”. This sums up perfectly where I’m at right now.
Back in 2015 (I think) I got seriously into Marie Kondo (aka the Konmari metho). I think the principles align so well with a Montessori approach of less is more, decluttering your space and mind, and being surrounded only by things that are useful or spark joy.
And now I’m moving into the wabi sabi stage. Where things feel better a little more relaxed around the edges. Not aiming for perfection. But relaxed simplicity. I think these principles also apply in Montessori. Where we all feel at home in ourselves and in the home. Where it’s ok that at home we may not put things back every time, but by the time it’s lunchtime; or that the kids build a Lego world in the school holidays and you claim back the living room after the break.
This is a quote from “Wabi Sabi Welcome” Julie Pointer Adams that I have up in the classroom at the moment:
“Living a mindful, considered life means making time and space to breathe, slow down, and be specific about what I truly desire.”
Beautiful, non? Curious if this resonates for anyone else at the moment…
leaving happier than you came
Another thing I’ve been loving is the idea of leaving happier than you came. My friend Laura has taken on a leadership role for an organisation where she came up with the idea that people could leave work happier than they came. Instead of wanting to flop on the couch to recover when we get home from work, imagine if we came back feeling energised, happier people in our home lives, with our families, and to others around us.
Then I noticed the same quote in a cafe in Amsterdam, and I’m adopting it now too. I’ve even written it on the window of our classroom door. A reminder of sorts to be intentional, to be light, and to live in a way where people we come in contact with in our daily life also leave happier than they came.
in the news
Another fun video series I got to take part in was “Montessori Talks” with Mira from Montessori Essentials. Mira is a fellow Montessori teacher who is currently on the road homeschooling her children from an RV. We cover lots in this interview including what 3 things I’d take on the road with me, and what it’s like to raise teenagers in a Montessori way. I hope you enjoy it.